UK retailer Tesco has appointed Michael Fleming, the head of its Japanese business, to the newly-created role of group strategy director.

The appointment came into effect on 2 May, a spokesperson for Tesco told just-food today (18 May).

The move has prompted speculation that the UK retailer could be evaluating its options in Japan, with an exit from the market – which generates revenues of around GBP449m (US$724.35m) – being touted as one possible eventuality.

Tesco declined to comment on its plans for Japan. However, as it looks to rejuvenate its business in the UK, which is failing to deliver sales growth on a par with its overseas operations, Tesco has shuffled its management duties and brought a number of key executives back from its overseas businesses.

In January, the company announced that Per Bank, formerly head of the supermarket’s operations in Hungary, was moved to the post of commercial director for food in the UK. Bob Robbins, chief executive of Tesco’s central and Eastern Europe business, became COO of the retailer’s UK arm.

Previously, responsibility for the strategy role at Tesco was included in the remit of retailing services chief executive Andy Higginson.